By Alan Pergament
Co-anchor Ginger Geoffery is going to be exiting "Eyewitness News This Morning" shortly.
Mike Randall is here to stay.
That's been confirmed by incoming General Manager Mike Nurse, who officially takes over for Bill Ransom in less than two weeks.
Nurse's first order of business appears to be fixing the station's morning program, which is an extremely weak No. 3 in the market behind Channel 2’s "Daybreak" and Channel 4’s "Wake Up!"
Nurse's job was made easier when Taney announced a few weeks ago that he was leaving at the end of July to take a morning anchor job in Rochester, which is a smaller market closer to his parents' home.
Then Nurse had to decide whether to offer a new deal to Geoffery, who has been at Channel 7 for almost nine years. She came to Channel 7 after working at the Empire Sports Network. Her contract is believed to expire in a few months. She also anchors the station's low-rated noon newscast.
"We’re looking at a whole new team," Nurse confirmed Tuesday.
The decision reverses the plans of Channel 7 News Director Polly Van Doren, who said a few weeks ago that she thought Taney and Geoffery just needed more promotion and more evening exposure to improve ratings.
In an email received today, Geoffery claimed it was her decision to leave.
"The truth is that after much contemplation I decided it it is best for my career not to sign another contract with WKBW," she wrote.
Geoffery can't be blamed entirely for the station's low morning ratings. The program has been lifeless for years. However, the move to go to a new two-person anchor team is understandable because something fresh is more likely to lead to more sampling from viewers after years of ignoring Channel 7 in the morning.
There is some recent local precedence for replacing an entire morning anchor team. Channel 4 has had almost instant success with its new morning team of Diana Fairbanks and Jordan Williams after both Victoria Hong and Joe Arena left the station for other jobs. Ratings for "Wake Up!" grew significantly in May, and the station actually had an overall demographic victory over Channel 2’s "Daybreak" from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Nurse was wise to keep Randall, a talent who is smooth on the air and also one of the few veterans remaining on Channel 7's news staff. He will celebrate his 30th year anniversary at the station in August.
"We have a verbal agreement on a multi-year deal," said Nurse.
The GM is expected to name his new morning co-anchor team shortly and the pairing should be on the air by August. Taney and Geoffery are expected to remain as co-anchors until then.
When the new team premieres in August, Geoffery could remain with the station as a reporter until her contract expires sometime in the fall.